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No. 643: The Great School Choice Debate

No. 643: The Great School Choice Debate

📅 Today, Davis gets ready for his conversation with Corey DeAngelis, and Megan rounds up some news about the pending transit referendum, TVA, and gun legislation.

Good afternoon, everyone.

I'll be talking with school choice evangelist Corey DeAngelis this afternoon about the state of the movement in the US, and more specifically, about what we can expect from Tennessee's proposed ESA program.

Amidst all the froth in this year's General Assembly, debate around this issue will eat up a lot of air time. If passed successfully, it would be a very consequential piece of legislation that could forever change how education functions in the state.

There have been many arguments put forth for and against the program. Reading the arguments on both sides in preparation for the interview reminded me of this passage from Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer:

Down I plunk myself with a liberal weekly at one of the massive tables, read it from cover to cover, nodding to myself whenever the writer scores a point. Damn right, old son, I say, jerking my chair in approval. Pour it on them. Then up and over to the rack for a conservative monthly and down in a fresh cool chair to join the counterattack. Oh ho, say I, and hold fast to the chair arm: that one did it: eviscerated!

A charming and humorous depiction of how things are hashed out in today’s digital public square. 

During the discussion, we'll try and cover it from all angles. If you're interested, you can tune in live on YouTube or Twitter, catch the recording later at your leisure, or listen via our podcast.




From Megan Podsiedlik

Following last Friday’s media roundtable, Mayor O’Connell indicated he’ll consider a new transit initiative. We’ll find out whether he’ll pursue the idea by the end of the month. During the Q&A, the mayor laid out a few key factors he is weighing before making the final call. “The things you need to clear are legal and financial foremost,” O’Connell told those present. “Can we meet all of the conditions that would allow it to be on the [November 8th] ballot in the first place?” There’s also the question of whether NDOT and WeGo have the bandwidth to support the planning process.

As we’ve seen in the past, timing is everything when it comes to Nashvillians embracing transit initiatives on their dime. Though we've seen proposal after proposal aimed at making the city more walkable, bikeable, bus-able, you name it, a mayor has yet to crack the code when it comes to getting sweeping transit proposals approved. In 2018, for instance, former mayor Megan Barry’s “Let’s Move Nashville” plan flopped spectacularly. 

At the end of the day, Nashville needs solutions tailored to its status as a commuter city with a growing suburban population. Barry’s referendum overestimated her constituents' feelings about footing the bill for a transit proposal that lacked continuity with surrounding counties. If O’Connell puts forward a new proposal, we’ll see if he has been taking notes and whether he’ll propose a solution with commuters— and skeptical Nashvillians— in mind. 


Last night, the Tennessee Valley Authority pulled us through the deep freeze. While temperatures dropped to an average of 4 degrees, the peak power demand was 34,526 megawatts. According to the TVA, this set an all-time record. “The previous record was 33,482 MW in Aug. 2007,” they reported this morning. While the electric grid is stable, the authority is still asking Tennesseans to be mindful of energy consumption by following the recommendations we mentioned yesterday: be sure to shut your window blinds and curtains, set your thermostat to 68 degrees, and reduce your use of nonessential appliances and lights. 


Last year, the 113th General Assembly came to a bit of a stalemate in the wake of the Covenant tragedy. Topics surrounding gun control had become highly politicized, leading to political standoffs, protests, and expulsions. Amid the firestorm, Senate Judiciary Chairman Todd Gardenhire decided to step back from the frenzy, closing off his committee from hearing any gun-related legislation for the remainder of the regular session. 

“This committee is not gonna be turned into a circus by people with other agendas,” Gardenhire told the Lookout. “The agenda on the table now is respecting the privacy of the victims’ families that were gunned down and let that healing process start.”

Now, as the General Assembly kicks back into high gear, some of those bills could roll over into this year’s session. If a bill isn’t pulled by sponsors and is properly accompanied by a companion bill, both the restrictive firearm proposals and pro-2A legislation put on pause by Gardenhire’s actions could find their way back on the docket. 


One just-filed firearm bill we’re keeping our eye on is Rep. Todd Warner and Sen. Joey Hensley’s consumer protection bill, which would safeguard the privacy of gun owners by prohibiting banks and credit card companies from tracking firearm purchases. This issue originally surfaced back in September 2022 when General Skrmetti joined 24 other attorneys general in writing to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa regarding a Merchant Category Code created for gun stores to use when processing credit and debit card transactions:

As our respective States’ chief legal officers, we are tasked with protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens, defending our consumers from privacy intrusions and other abuses, and enforcing antitrust laws. Accordingly, we share our concerns and ask that you take immediate action to comport with our consumer protection laws and respect the constitutional rights of all Americans.

Warner and Hensley’s bill was introduced last week. 


The next fight in Tennessee’s campaign finance disclosure laws (Lookout) The next fronts in Tennessee’s campaign finance’s never-ending game of whack-a-mole appear to be tracking the disclosures from education groups and regulation of newly formed conservative subgroups challenging incumbent Republicans.

NDOT’s Plan to Make Nolensville Pike Safer (Scene) With $13 million in federal funds, the We Are Nolensville Pike project aims to improve one of Nashville’s most dangerous roadways.

TBI reports continued delays in rape kit testing (Lookout) The testing delays fall short of the agency’s goal of returning evidence collected from sexual assault crimes within eight to 12 weeks, but mark an improvement in the 45-week turnaround times reported a year ago.


  • Speakeasy-style cocktail club slated for Hillsboro Village, more (NBJ)
  • Pie Town Tacos opens on east side (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.


🎸 Teea Goans & The Detour @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info

🎸 Palmyra @ Dee's Lounge, 7p, Free, Info
+ Virginia folk trio

🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street

🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ two-step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 642: Country Music Doesn’t Have a Diversity Problem
📅 Today, Davis talks about country music again, and Megan talks about the winter storm we’ve witnessed this week.
No. 641: The Youth Are Alright
📅 Today, Davis talks about the politics of young people, Jerod reviews Alexander Payne’s new movie The Holdovers, and Megan breaks down the ELVIS Act.
No. 640: Beyond Compliance
🇺🇸 There’s more to life than complying · The AG takes on Meta · Rejecting federal education funds · Much more!
No. 639: Racking Up Time
⏳ Who talks the most · Bret Easton Ellis’ new novel · Epstein flight logs · Much more!
No. 638: Here’s Your Sign
🪧 113th General Assembly begins · Signs as a fixation · Three bills that you’ll hear about, but won’t pass · Much more!


  • 🎞 The Holdovers is the ultimate fable of academic populism. (Read)
  • 📖 The Anti-Nostalgia of Bret Easton Ellis: A review of The Shards (Read)
  • 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
  • 🏘 The double-edged sword of prosperity in Tennessee's small towns (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.